for this game

Abrams catches fire as Texas edges Griffin-less Oklahoma

Feb 22, 2009 - 6:15 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- A.J. Abrams came up with some big shots to hold off a club that was trying to pick up its fallen star.

Abrams scored 18 of his team's final 20 points Saturday as Texas saved its season with a 73-68 victory over second-ranked Oklahoma, which was without the injured Blake Griffin.

The leading candidate for national player of the year, Griffin sat out the final 23-plus minutes due to a potential concussion. The 6-10 sophomore, who was also hampered by early foul trouble, ended up with just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

While on the bench for the closing minutes before halftime, Griffin appeared quite woozy and had cotton packed up his nostril to deal with a bloody nose. He was hit on the nose by the Longhorns' Dexter Pittman attempting a shot with 7:28 remaining.

Although Griffin was declared out after the Sooners came back from the half, Griffin visibly pleaded to return to the game in the opening minutes.

"No, I do not know of his condition," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "We'll re-evaluate (Sunday) and move on. This was a decision by the doctors to keep him out of the second half."

"I don't know much about it because I was out on the court playing," said Taylor Griffin, Blake's older brother.

It did not help that he was forced to watch his team fall behind 41-29 on Pittman's three-point play with 18:18 remaining.

However, Oklahoma (25-2, 11-1 Big Ten) showed that it was more than its stellar big man, as Tony Crocker scored five points in a 14-0 run that gave the Sooners a 43-41 lead with 14:27 to play.

"I just knew everybody had to step up a little bit more since Blake (Griffin) was unable to play in the second half," Oklahoma freshman guard Willie Warren said. "I did whatever I could do to try to help my team win the game."

"They would not be coming in here with one loss if they did not have other answers," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "On the floor, they have guys that can score. They are a legit basketball team."

The Sooners also had a 61-56 advantage when Warren shook off a cramp in his left leg to hit a 3-pointer with 5:09 left. Abrams, however, caught fire down the stretch, scoring 16 straight points for his team, including a 3-pointer for a 69-65 lead with 1:13 to play.

"I asked him if he could stop hitting shots, but he didn't listen at all," Warren said of Abrams. "It was a totally different ballgame without Blake being out there. If he was playing, I think we would've won, more than likely."

Juan Pattillo was able to close Oklahoma within a point after splitting two free throws and following up on a missed attempt from the arc by Warren.

Yet, the Sooners could not get a key rebound when they needed it, as Pittman grabbed Abrams' missed 3-pointer and spun to the hoop for a layup, making it 71-68 with 12 seconds left. Crocker then missed the potential tying shot and Abrams was fouled before making two free throws.

Abrams finished with 23 points and five 3-pointers as the Longhorns (18-8, 7-5) avoided consecutive losses.

"I thought A.J. settled down and really started moving," Barnes said. "He did a great job and came up big."

Scoring 20 or more points for the third time in four games, Abrams went 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-8 from the arc in the second half.

Damion James had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Dogus Balbay scored 10, handed out nine assists and pulled down eight boards for Texas, which shot 50 percent (15-of-30) after intermission.

Warren had 27 points to pick up the slack for Griffin, but Oklahoma lost for the first time since December 30.

"We didn't have anything to prove to ourselves," Capel said. "We've played hard all year. Again, I've been saying all year, and our guys know it, that it's not Blake and the Sooners, it's Oklahoma. We didn't prove anything to ourselves. We lost and we're disappointed."